Standing on a public sidewalk on the side of the road, holding a sign warning drivers about an upcoming DUI police checkpoint, a Connecticut man was threatened with arrest Sunday, accused of “distracting the traffic.”
However, it was Hartford Police Sergeant Reggie Early who was blocking traffic with his patrol car as he threatened Michael Picard with arrest on a non-existent charge.
All because the 27-year-old man held a sign that said, “Cops ahead. Keep calm and remain silent.”
But at least he didn’t follow through on his threat.
“No, you cannot stand on the sidewalk,” Sergeant Early told Picard while parking his car on the street, about 600 feet from the entrance ramp to Interstate 91, where Connecticut state police were conducting a DUI checkpoint.
“I can,” Picard responded.
“No, you cannot stand on the sidewalk. You got to keep moving,” Early insisted.
“I can stand on the sidewalk,” Picard responded.
“You’re obstruct …. you’re distracting the traffic,” Early said.
At this point, Early had screwed up, attempting to accuse him of obstructing traffic when he probably realized he was the one obstructing traffic, which is why he switched to the accusation of distracting the traffic.
But if standing on the side of the road holding a sign warning drivers about an upcoming checkpoint is distracting traffic, then what do we say about billboards?
But Early figured Picard was uninformed because he kept repeating the “distracting traffic” accusation.
“It’s still a First Amendment right,” Picard said.
“So you’re going to stay there?” Early asked.
Picard told him he would keep walking around, if that is what made Early happy, but he was not planning on leaving the area.
Early then resorted to giving him “a warning,” which prompted Picard to remind him it was a “public sidewalk,” which prompted even more stupidity from Early.
“Ok, I’ll put you in a public jail cell, too, if I come back over here, I promise you,” he threatened.
Well, Picard remained there for another hour and Sergeant Early never made good on his promise, probably realizing he had picked on the wrong guy, a man who knows his rights. A man who knows the law. A man willing to take an unlawful arrest.
“I was determined to stand my ground, even if the officer arrested me, because I did absolutely nothing wrong or illegal,” Picard wrote in a Facebook message to Photography is Not a Crime.
That is why it’s important that we all educate ourselves because even though Early has, in the past, participated in positive photo ops with school children, as you can see in the tweet below, the video shows he is a man who will use his authority to twist the law to benefit himself and fellow officers.
The video shows he is a man who cannot be trusted.